To Tax or Not to Tax? What is It Worth?


In the romantic years of cyberspace (1995-2000), the e-commerce was exempt from VAT. Upon the 2000 USA election, the candidate George W. Bush promised to keep the situation as such. Nowadays, “to tax or not to tax” is no longer the question. We try, based on an analysis within a mathematical framework, to answer the more meaningful question, “how much to tax?” First, we examine the issue of the origin versus the destination principle. Then, we review the various means of taxing in the EU and USA. Finally, we propose a mathematical model that provides an optimum for VAT, taking into account the gains of the suppliers, as well as the consumer surplus.